Seasonal flu death toll up to 38 as number of outbreaks rises

Most of the deaths reported this winter have been among those aged 65 and older

Thirty-eight people have died from flu in the last seven weeks and the number of influenza related hospitalisations and outbreaks increased last week, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said. File photograph: David Cheskin/PA Wire.

Thirty-eight people have died from flu in the last seven weeks and the number of influenza related hospitalisations and outbreaks increased last week, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said. File photograph: David Cheskin/PA Wire.

 

Thirty-eight people have died from flu in the last seven weeks and the number of influenza related hospitalisations and outbreaks increased last week, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said.

Flu rates increased slightly in the week to February 17th and the HSE said it was likely that the virus would continue to circulate in the community for at least another three weeks.

A total of 2,083 confirmed cases of flu have been reported in the last seven weeks, and 112 people have been admitted to critical care. The number or related deaths increased from 34 to 38 last week, with most of these among people aged 65 and older.

The HSE said it was not too late to get the flu vaccine, especially for those in at-risk groups.

The number of people going to see their GP with influenza decreased last week, falling to 42.2 per 100,000 of population from 52.4 per 100,000 of population the previous week.

Dr Kevin Kelleher, HSE assistant national director for health protection, asked people to “cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and cleaning your hands as soon as you can”.

“These are important measures in helping prevent the spread of influenza and other germs and reducing the risk of transmission,” he said.

Dr Kelleher urged those who get the flu to stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms.

“Anyone in one of the high-risk groups should contact their GP if they develop influenza symptoms. If you need to visit your GP or the Emergency Department, please phone first to explain that you might have flu,” he said.